- Introduction: Doing Philosophy of Social Science
- Micro, Macro, and Mechanisms
- Mechanisms, Causal Modeling, and the Limitations of Traditional Multiple Regression
- Process Tracing and Causal Mechanisms
- Descriptive-Causal Generalizations: “Empirical Laws” in the Social Sciences?
- Useful Complex Causality
- Partial Explanations in Social Science
- Mechanistic Social Probability: How Individual Choices and Varying Circumstances Produce Stable Social Patterns
- The Impact of Duhemian Principles on Social Science Testing and Progress
- Philosophy and the Practice of Bayesian Statistics in the Social Sciences
- Sciences of Historical Tokens and Theoretical Types: History and the Social Sciences
- RCTs, Evidence, and Predicting Policy Effectiveness
- Bringing Context and Variability Back into Causal Analysis
- The Potential Value of Computational Models in Social Science Research
- Models of Culture
- The Evolutionary Program in Social Philosophy
- Cultural Evolution: Integration and Skepticism
- Coordination and the Foundations of Social Intelligence
- Making Race Out of Nothing: Psychologically Constrained Social Roles
- A Feminist Empirical and Integrative Approach in Political Science: Breaking Down the Glass Wall?
- Social Constructions of Mental Illness
- Cooperation and Reciprocity: Empirical Evidence and Normative Implications
- Evaluating Social Policy
- Values and the Science of Well-Being: A Recipe for Mixing
Abstract and Keywords
This article, which takes a fresh look at micro–macro relations in the social sciences from the point of view of the mechanistic account of explanation, introduces the distinction between causal and constitutive explanation. It then discusses the intentional fundamentalism, and challenges the idea that intentional explanations have a privileged position in the social sciences. A mechanism-based explanation describes the causal process selectively. The properties of social networks serve both as the explananda and the explanantia in sociology. Knowledge of the causal mechanisms is vital in the justification of historical causal claims. The intentional attitudes of individuals are also important in most mechanism-based explanations of social phenomena. It is important to pay closer attention to how real macro social facts figure in social scientific theories and explanations.
Petri Ylikoski is currently an academy research fellow at the University of Helsinki, Finland. His research interests include theory of explanation, science studies, philosophy of the social sciences, and philosophy of biology. He is especially interested in the interfaces between the social and the biological sciences and in the idea of mechanism-based understanding in the social sciences.
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